Let’s Tread Gently and Sincerely
Praise be to Allāh the Lord of the world; may the blessing and peace be upon the Prophet Muhammad, his household and companions all together.
A blunt truth is the fact that scholars of Sunnah since the time of as-Salaf as-Sālih have agreed or differed on the recommendation or disparagement of certain individuals. For instance, the scholars of Sunnah of the past (and even the present ) are unanimous that the companions are ‘udūl ( trustworthy) and they are also unanimously agreed that Jahm bn Safwan, ‘Amr bn ‘Ubayd’, Waasil bn ‘Atā, Bishr al-Msrīsiy and many others are mubtadiah to the extent that whoever says something contrary, their statement is disregarded. Consequently many books were written by the scholars of Sunnah to warn against these individuals and their groups or sects.
However, during or before or after the time of Imam Ahmad some scholars were disparaged by some other scholars ascribing to them one major bid’ah or another; this ascriptions were based on sincerity and what was clear to then.
For instance, al-imām Ahmad warned seriously against al-Karābīsi who said -aside two other things- that his lafzh of the Quran was created; To al-imām Ahmad, al-Karābīsī indirectly meant the Quran was a creation of Allāh. Countless numbers of scholars of Sunnah at that time followed al-imām Ahmad in this stand on al-Karābīsī; they were so harsh on him to the extent that when he died only four or so people observed salāt on him.
Al-Imam Ahmad also asked people to boycott the likes of Ya’qub bn Shaybah, a scholar of hadith, because he took the position of tawaqquf ( he could not say whether the Qur,an was created or not ).
He also spoke against ‘Aliyy bn al- Ja’d and rubbed off all the ahādīth that he reported from him because he got the information that he would abuse Muā’wiyah, and he would not rebuke the one who says the Qur,an is created.
Nevertheless, some scholars such as Yahya bn Ma’een did not see the case of ‘Aliyy bn al-Ja’d the way al-imām Ahmad had seen it; likewise al-imām Al-Bukhari collected hadith from him. Al-Bukhāri also collected the hadith of Shabābah bn Sawwār whom al-imām Ahmad warned against and did not report from because he considered him a dā’iyah to al-irjā. Perhaps the information had by al-imām Ahmad on some of the personalities mentioned did not get to Ibn Maēn and Al-Bukhari in the case of ‘Aliyy bn al-Ja’d and Al-Bukhari in the case of Shabābah bn Sawwār or they were not convinced respectively, this is because they were both also known to be harsh on the Jahmiyyah likewise the Murjiah.
Even Al-Bukhari himself was later warned against by Al-Imām Muhammad bn Yahya Adh-Dhuhli; he was accused of supporting the Lafzhiyyah; this,however, was wrongly understood from his statement ” التلاوة غير المتلو” as contained in his book ” خلق أفعال العباد”.
Al-Bukhari was boycotted by the people of Nizabur to the extent that when he was leaving it nobody accompanied him. In fact Abdurrahmān bn Abi Hātim said his father Abu Hātim and Abu Zur’ah erased their reports from Al-Bukhari because of this incident when the information reached them from adh-Dhuhli. However, scholars in other places defended Al-Bukhari with his book mentioned earlier which clearly differentiated between the word of Allah and the actions of the servants.
Muhammad bn Nasr al-Marwazi suffered similar experience in the hands of the scholars of Sunnah in Khurasān when he said Īmān is created. He was boycotted by the scholars of Khurasān.
There are so many examples in the history of Islam and the scholars.
Summarily, what I am trying to point out is that when scholars of Sunnah from all places agree or are almost unanimous on the tabdī’ of a particular individual or group with clear evidences one should stick to it as that is the truth and anybody trying to defend such a person can be disregarded or treated the same way if it is confirmed that they are only trying to follow their desires.There are presently some individuals and Jamaa’at( The Ikhwaan theTablīg, Sufis etc ) that the scholars of Sunnah are almost unanimous that they are innovators, hence, anybody trying to defend them is either disregarded or treated the same way.
On the other hand, there are some individuals who the Senior scholars of Sunnah have disagreed on their matter as to whether they have left the fold of Sunnah or not; and what has been responsible for this is the amount of information they have at their disposal in addition to the authenticity of these pieces of information or otherwise.
Hence, students or lovers following these scholars who have made tabdī’ of such individuals and those scholars who are yet to make tabdī’ and who still consider those individuals as ahlussunah, the followers of both scholars are likely to clash unless if they are sincere and tread gently and are ready to submit to the truth when it is clear to them. Pending that time the lovers or followers of some particular scholars of Sunnah should not practise ilzām on the followers or lovers of the other scholars of Sunnah;each should be allowed to relate with the individual(s) over whom the true/ senior scholars of Sunnah have differed with their convictions without any imposition. The inability to handle this well is what has led to the various divisions among the adherents of Sunnah in the world today.
Written by: Sheikh ‘AbdulGaniy Juma’h, Hafidhahullah,